RASS Records

North Sea autumn spawning herring; North Sea, Skagerrak and Eastern English Channel (Subarea 4 and Divisions 3a and 7d), Pelagic otter trawl

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Content Last Updated
19 February 2019

Herring (Clupea harengus) is a pelagic schooling species that migrates between spawning, wintering and feeding grounds. Juveniles shoal close inshore while adults are found more offshore. Herring spawn in coastal areas on sandy and gravel substrates, making them vulnerable to anthropogenic activities such as gravel extraction and the development of coastal wind farms. Herring is one of the dominant planktivorous fish and is an important prey item for predatory fish, marine mammals and seabirds.   North Sea autumn spawning herring are mainly caught by mid-water trawlers and purse-seiners in the late spring and summer in the central and northern North Sea, and in the autumn and winter in the southern North Sea.

North Sea Autumn spawning herring in subareas 4, 7d and 3a has been scored a low risk. This is because the stock is currently at a safe level and under exploited. However, the stock is predicted to decrease in the medium term.

Spawning-stock biomass (SSB) fluctuated between 1.5 and 2.6 million tonnes between 1998 and 2017, and in all years it was above the spawning stock biomass action level (MSY Btrigger). Fishing mortality (F) has been below FMSY since 1996. Even though the size of the stock has been large, the recruitment of young fish (R) has been relatively low since 2002, with the two lowest year classes falling within the recent four of the last 30 years. This means that the spawning stock biomass  predicted to decrease to below MSYBtrigger, the level below which action should be taken to conserve the stock, in the medium term. 

The advised TAC  for 2019 has been reduced to take account of this prediction, and to take account of the overlap with the overlapping West Baltic Spring Spawning herring stock for which the advice is a zero TAC in 2019.

The management of North Sea Autumn spawning herring in subareas 4, 7d and 3a has been scored a very low risk.  The stock management is underpinned by a stock assessment that uses both fishery dependent and independent data and there are no serious issues with unnacounted catches. 

The headline advice for Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is based on the ICES MSY approach, but the agreed TAC for 2019, a reduction of 35.9% on 2018, is higher than this advice. However short term (two year) predictions indicate that the stock will remain inside safe biological limits.  The management of this stock is under an agreement between the EU and Norway and  these parties have agreed to meet during 2019 to consult on the management of herring stocks in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat, including TAC setting.

The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored a moderate risk. This is because midwater trawls have the potential to capture moderate levels of bycatch as well as occasional catches of threatened mega fauna species. Recent advances in technology on modern vessels allow the precise targeting of herring shoals, thereby reducing bycatch.

The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored a very low risk. Although midwater trawls make occasional contact with the seabed, spatial management is in place and effort is made to avoid the seabed as contact may damage the gear.

TypeCurrent Risk StatusOutlookReason
StockLowDeterioratingThe stock is being managed in accordance with the MSY approach. The 2017 assessment predicted a reduction in stock size in 2018 and 2019 due to the weak 2014 year class. This has been confirmed by the 2018 assessment. Following the ICES MSY approach, this results in a substantially lower catch advice for 2019.
ManagementVery LowStableThe stock is managed under agreement between Norway and the European Union. The stock is in transition from the management strategy to management under the ICES MSY approach
BycatchModerateImprovingContinual investment in state of the art technology and modern equipment will likely reduce the risk further.
HabitatVery LowStableFishers will continue to avoid the seabed to reduce damage to the gear.

Nutrition information from 100g raw product

Rich in:
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12
Vitamin D
Good Source Of:
190 (kcal)
13.2 (g)
3.3 (g)
0 (g)
0 (g)